|Norm Judd places gravel under a new display at the visitor center at the Cleveland/Lloyd dinosaur quarry.|
Emery County has long been the final resting place for numerous dinosaurs. The Cleveland/Lloyd dinosaur quarry is the site where many dinosaurs have been hiding for the last 150 million years. This site just became a little grander with the help of the managing agency, the United States Bureau of Land Management. The BLM has been involved in a major renovation of the quarry.
The quarry came into being approximately 147 million years ago. The first people to work the site were from the University of Utah back in 1928-29. The buildings covering the bone bed were put up in 1975-76. The BLM enlisted the help of the Job Corp in 1968 for the construction of the original visitors center. Since that time someone has been on site when the quarry is open to greet visitors.
On public lands day 2002 the citizens of Emery County worked to put in a sidewalk leading from the visitors center down to the buildings covering the dinosaur bones. This new project adjusted a portion of that sidewalk to make it ADA compliant so visitors of all abilities will be able to enjoy the quarry.
A major renewal of the visitors center took place with an addition which will be the home for a complete allosaurus skeleton. The allosaurus is the predominant dinosaur at the quarry with many femur bones being found at the site. Portions of the dinosaurs have been found and much is left to be discovered.
|The quarry visitors center with the expansion complete.|
Mike Leschin is a geologist and paleontologist who has been taking care of the quarry for the past eight years. In addition to his work at the quarry he helps the BLM with environmental assessments on various projects. He has been working on the environmental assessment for Phase III of the Moore Road project.
Norm Judd is from Insight Exhibits from Salt Lake City. He and his crew have been putting together the new exhibits and displays at the quarry. "We have worked on the dino museum in Ogden and the Clark Planetarium. We have also been involved with displays on the Salt Lake Temple grounds." Judd seemed impressed with what Emery County has to offer and has spent a little time getting to know the area as his crew installs the exhibits.
Leschin said the renovation has included new windows, sky lights, solar panels, a technical room, small office, new and expanded exhibits and a walk-out deck leading from the allosaurus room. The old catwalks in the quarry building have been replaced with railed observation decks including a birds eye view from an elevated deck.
"One of the quarry buildings has received the new siding and a new rock entryway, but we ran out of money before we made it to the other building. Hopefully in the future there will be more funding to complete the siding on the other building. We also made significant improvements with the water drainage into the quarry buildings. A nonpermeable lining was placed outside the quarry building. This step has virtually solved the runoff problem. The water itself isn't the problem, but the water carries grains of sand into the bones and expansion and contraction leads to bone damage.
"We really had to cut out parts of the project due to the escalating building costs. The quarry closed to the public last fall. But, we have still had visitors come out inspite of the closed signs and the danger sign on the gate. We have about 5,000 visitors each year. We are planning to reopen to the public in March and a grand reopening is planned for late April 2007. The project has taken awhile, even longer than anticipated. We will also be working with the Museum of Natural History on two exhibits. We also depended heavily upon the museum for the development of the whole interpretive package being installed in the visitors center. We are having two copies made of the allosaur mount. One will be for us and one will go into the new museum being built by the Museum of Natural History. They will also do a major focus in their new museum on the Cleveland/Lloyd quarry.
|Mike Leschin, quarry guy, stands beside a new display in the visitors center.|
"One new exhibit in the quarry building will replicate a cubic yard of deposit. This will give a three diminesional representation and will be easier for people to understand. It really takes a lot of work to get a bone out," said Leschin.
Other people involved with the project include Trent Duncan who is a mechanical engineer from the state BLM office. Bob Fossat, originally from Elmo, has been involved as the project inspector.
Leschin refers to himself as the "quarry guy." He is excited about the project and says, "Yeah, it's almost done. It's been a long time coming. This is a world class site and the BLM has not been set up to deal with it. But we are learning. We are becoming better at providing visitor services at natural sites. Emery County has been a great partner for the quarry. They are always helpful and interested in what we are doing out here. We are meeting as a committee to plan the re-opening and Mike McCandless from Emery County Economic Development and Ray Petersen from public lands is involved with that as well as Kathy Hanna-Smith and others.
"I think we can increase our visitors to the quarry without losing the feel we have out here. I have had visitors who have been to the dinosaur quarry in Vernal and then visited here and they say they like us better. It's just a certain atmosphere we have out here that's appealing to visitors. I believe we have reached a good balance in preserving the naturalness while modernizing the quarry just a little. We've added some durable displays and interactive displays that will really enhance the experience for the school children," said Leschin.